Today we’re traveling to the Pacific Northwest, where Gail Barnard gardens just south of Portland, Oregon. And we’re going to step back in time to when, Gail says, she enjoyed an especially brilliant fall after a long, hot, dry summer. In addition to the usual brightly colored trees, Gail’s garden gets fall interest from berries and perennials as well.
A beauty berry (Callicarpa dichotoma, Zones 5–8) is loaded down with berries. In a season that is dominated by reds, oranges, and yellows, beauty berries are a nice contrast with their brilliant purple. I love how in this planting, the purple of the berries is echoed by the purple heuchera growing below it.
We often think of fall color as being the domain of trees and shrubs, but some perennials put on a pretty good show too. Here Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra, Zones 5–9) takes on a beautiful golden hue, perfectly complementing the gold chairs in the background.
Paperbark maple (Acer griseum, Zones 4–8) has great bark all year, but in the fall the fiery foliage takes it to a whole new level.
In this long view of the garden, Japanese forest grass makes bright puddles of gold, which looks all the brighter for the green foliage around it.
The paperbark maple looks even brighter as it catches the sunlight behind it. It is worth noticing the sun’s position in your garden in the fall so that you can plant something brilliant like this and transform fall colors into nature’s stained-glass windows.
Another view of the sun-soaked fall garden.
In autumn, as in the rest of the year, putting two contrasting colors together can make each of them shine all the brighter. Here a blood-red Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 6–8) enhances the bright yellow foliage around it.
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